…The Burwell lute tutor states: "[On] other instruments we sing, but on the lute we speak". That is exactly what Bailes does, and in a very eloquent manner.
Compiled between about 1620 and 1650 by the Munich painter Albrecht Wörl, this manuscript collection of early 17th century baroque lute music includes dances and song settings by many of the earliest generation of lutenist-composers working in the ‘new tunings’ (accords nouveaux). Wörl’s ability to notate the pieces he collected with accuracy seems to have been severely hampered by the rapid degradation of his eyesight. Because of this, and the fact that Wörl’s lute book contains many unique anonymous works, this manuscript, which is full of beautiful music has been overlooked for far too long. Canadian lutenist Evan Plommer presents reconstructed and revitalized versions of 36 pieces in 5 different tunings for baroque lute, including Wörl’s elaborations as well as those of his own making.
From the reign of Henry VIII and onwards, the lute and its practitioners enjoyed the patronage of the very highest English society. Henry played the lute himself, as did his daughter Elizabeth I, who during one period employed as many as five lutenists at her court. In 1603, when she was succeeded on the throne by James I, the tradition was maintained: with his appointment of John Dowland the king increased the number of royal lutenists, while his queen, Anne of Denmark, played the lute herself. This royal enthusiasm for the lute influenced the aristocracy, and an English style of lute music was established.